4 Wise Tips on Preparing for Marriage After the Wedding

I know I’ve said it before, but here I am saying it again: the wedding is only the beginning of what should be the rest of your blissful married life. As husband and wife, you’ll be embarking on years of new adventures after the one day of festivities. Your wedding day is only a grain of sand in the grand beach of your entire life. It is best to prepare for life following the Big Day and not only the day itself.

I am a big believer that if you adequately prepare for something — that is, to prepare mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, all of the above — then your chances of success increase substantially. Though I know there will never be enough wisdom and information I can gain to fully prepare for marriage, I do feel I’ve gained a few gems of advice in which to set a firm foundation as a newlywed.

These four gems include advice on communication, clarification, adjustment, and agreement between both the husband and wife in order to have a happy marriage. They touch on possible challenges once you’re married and encourage you to invest in your partner following your vows. They are all examples of how G and I plan to enter our marriage, and I would love to share them with you!

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A Mixed Tape on Ceremony Music

G and I are attempting to narrow down our list of song options for the ceremony. (I think this has been his favorite part of planning to date.) We need around 13 songs for the entire church event and it seems almost impossible to minimize the list to only a dozen or so titles. We are considering mostly modern instrumental music, though there are a few traditional pieces we’ve decide upon for the rentals and other matured guests.

I’ll be sharing our little finds throughout the next few months on the growing list below, but please feel free to give some advice and/or suggestions for other songs we should use.

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Women’s Day Retreat of IF:Gathering

It has been almost two months since I left the event industry and began a new career. And I have to say, I’m quite in love with my new arrangement. Not only have I found necessary time for myself and my loved ones, but I have found abundant free time for writing, reading, and experiencing life which means many scheduled posts in the upcoming months. God is good!

When I still have those urges for event planning, though, I am also in very good hands. On March 3rd I was lucky enough to assist in orchestrating an amazing women’s retreat called If:Gathering at my church for 300 ladies passionate for God, strengthening their faith, and performing discipleship. IF’s mission is to equip women with gospel-centered resources, events, and community so they may learn more about who God is and disciple other women. (You can find out more about the organization here.) Talk about an amazingly inspirational day, and some seriously deep thoughts coming from asking “What IF…”

IF began with a heavy discussion on the darkness of Life: doubt. (Literally this was the topic covered minutes into the first speaker’s speech, guys, so talk about a solid foundation for the day’s agenda.) Questions such as “How would you describe the season you’re living?” and “What makes you weak?” were asked. Imagery of sparking fires within ourselves to grow and flourish were mentioned. Each woman’s purpose in Life was explored. And a stirring occurred within me which made me reevaluate a few of the only negative things still hanging around in my life. It was quite the day, friends!

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What FAQs to Add to Your Website

If your guest list contains guests like mine, then you are going to have some important questions directed your way prior to your Big Day. Some questions some guests are hesitant to ask the bride and the groom directly though. Which is why wedding websites definitely come in so handy! (Don’t have a wedding website yet? Check out my post on where to begin here.) Websites are a great way to get the pertinent schedule information you want directly to your guests without having to field a bunch of e-mails while trying to finalize your wedding plans. Basically, they’re a win-win for both sides!

A FAQ section on your wedding website is a great way to address the most important wedding questions (and even a few non-essential, funny ones as well) that are going to be asked. Since there are so many potential questions to be asked, I’ve compiled a list of some wedding guest questions I have either personally received (as a wedding coordinator or as a bride-to-be) or know to be frequently asked. Please feel free to take these questions and any of my answer examples as your own to tweak for your wedding website FAQ section as well.

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Cheers to Transitions

I began my position at the Winery on April 3, 2017. I was given the title Wine Club Manager and Event Coordinator, and was placed in charge of over 750 members with the goal of developing events to not only attract new members but also keep current. It has been a crazy year full of both known and unknown territory. I’ve created amazing relationships with many of my members and now call them my friends. My teammates at the winery have been incredible as well, offering assistance where needed, advice when asked, and numerous laughs along the way. I could not be more thankful.

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“That’s What She Said.”

I knew something was awry when G was adamant we go for a walk on the North Pier at 7:00pm Tuesday night. The walk didn’t cause suspicion, but the change in scenery and necessity of time frame made me suspect this Tuesday night might not be like any of our other typical one-night-of-the-week lazy nights. His suggestion of us going to a fancier restaurant for dinner that night (when we had plans to go grocery shopping anyways) made my eyes slant a little deeper too — what did he have planned? Being a Tuesday evening, though, I wasn’t quite sure what to think of all these oddities.

After watching an episode and a half of our latest Netflix binge “The Following” (Yes! He made us pause in the middle of an episode — that guy!), we prepared to head over to the opposite side of the river for our walk. As I put on my shoes, G disappeared outside for a minute — another odd behavior. I ended up meeting him at the door to leave and noticed he was putting his phone away. He took me by the hand, opened my car door, and we left for the Northside.

When we pulled into the beach’s parking lot, I really began to question what this walk was going to entail because there was a professional photographer setting up his tripod on the sidewalk leading to the pier. G, checking his phone quickly, never even glanced at the camera. Instead he steered me to the pier and its lighthouse.

If you have never been to Michigan, then I definitely recommend you make a trip sometime during the summer to come and enjoy our numerous beaches and lighthouses scattered along Lake Michigan. Sunbathe during the day and witness the breathtaking sunsets at night. They truly are incredible! G and I walk down to the beach very often to watch the sun set; I live only a quick minute’s walk away (thus the unusual request to drive to a different beach for this night’s walk.)

Tonight’s sunset was one of the best of Summer 2017. With only a handful of dates remaining of summer, the days of our pier walks were numbered before the cruel winter months would make the piers icy boardwalks, unsafe for anyone to attempt to trek. Tonight, though, was a perfect 70-something degrees, cloudless, and still on the water.

G and I strolled along the river towards the pier hand-in-hand. We talked about the ducks diving in the water, the light waves crashing on the sand, the fishermen along the sidelines, and the lighthouse looming ahead of us. We stopped several times to marvel at the sunset, to look back at the coast, to talk about God’s glory, to just enjoy one another’s company — our typical type of walk.

Our walk took us to the end of the pier. We meandered slowly, taking pictures like tourists to document the evening. My mind kept flashing to the photographer on shore and I attempted not to keep looking over my shoulder to see where he had ended up setting his camera. Was he here for us? Did G plan for him? On a Tuesday night? It seemed odd but…

Then we began heading back to shore, walking on the same side of the pier as we had come. The side towards the river, away from the beach where the cameraman could possibly be catching any snap shots of us. I started to doubt my suspicions and physically felt my heart beat slow a few beats. This was just a typical walk after all.

With his arm around my waist, G was still steering me to shore. As we passed beneath the main lighthouse, however, he halted and stepped sideways to face me. He pulled me into an embrace and I could feel him fumbling for something in his pocket. My heart soared; this was not a typical walk after all!

I was smiling as G pulled away with the box in his hand, and asked, “Babe, do you remember what we’ve been talking about?” Then he dropped to one knee. I was nodding and smiling like a fool as he continued simply, “Well, I think it’s about time we made it official. Will you marry me?”

I said, “YES!” and we kissed as people on the other pier clapped and cheered. There were also the unmistakable sounds of camera lenses shuttering. G pointed towards the lighthouse where not only my parents stood waving, but also his parents did as well! He had orchestrated his proposal to be witnessed by our closest loved ones!

G and I had been discussing marriage for some time leading to the proposal. We knew God had brought us together and that we were made for one another. There was something about our relationship that simply clicked like nothing else before. It is kind of amazing how quickly you can know you have found the One with whom you’re supposed to live out your life…

G’s persistence to take a walk at 7:00pm was due to our parents meeting and hiding out on the pier that Tuesday night. As family is incredibly important to both of us, G wanted our closest family members to be a part of the evening. I’m an only child, so my parents loved being involved, and G’s parents look at both of us as their kids. It was a beautiful decision on G’s part and one I (and they) will treasure.

On a side note, the actual photographer was not part of G’s plans at all, and he was actually pretty upset when he saw the man in the parking lot. He figured I would begin to wonder what was happening having seen him.

After the proposal, G, our parents, and myself walked the remainder of the pier to our cars and went to dinner together to celebrate. Following dinner, we began calling our closest friends and family members to tell them the exciting news. It has been a whirlwind since that night with wedding planning and enjoying being engaged, but I could not ask for a better partner in life and future husband. I could not have imagined a more perfect setting for the two of us, and the inclusion of our families meant the world to me.

I love you, always and forever, G.

Cheers to a bright future ahead and many fun and exciting projects to come!

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12 Signs You’re Doing Much Better Than You Think

“Hello blogosphere, my name is Ashley and I have an issue of busying myself far too much during the summer months.”

I know, I know, it has been a second since I’ve posted. I kick myself at the ending of every week for not finding the time to sit down and spend time with my keyboard. I feel like you’re all friends who have moved away and who I’ve promised to keep in touch with but… then I fail. So this is my little phone call to you all, promising to text, dial, email, smoke signal, whatever more in the future. I’m still here and I’m still here for you!

With that being said, Life is crazy right now. Work, House, volunteering committees seem to have devoured my every second and its every thing I can do to just find time to wash my clothes and brush my teeth. But hey, I love it! A quick overview: Wilbur and I are still happily together, I’ve recently picked up bujoing and am obsessed, my summer of weddings is about to be finished come August 12th, I danced with the idea of being a homeowner, I’ve committed to a few new responsibilities, Vinny from the Bachelorette liked my tweet… Overall Summer 2016 has been a rush and I’m excited to see what the rest of the year might bring! But, until I can actually sit down and choose a topic from my long list of options on my next blog post, enjoy this little nugget of wisdom found on Puckermob:


Originally posted on Puckermob:

It’s really easy to get caught up in your own head and believe you’re behind where you’re supposed to be for your age or that a single mistake is the end of the world.

Here are some signs that you’re actually doing much better than you think:

    1. You’re unsure about everything. Constantly wondering and questioning is a sign of intelligence. Have you noticed how it’s always the idiots that are so sure about every damn thing they are doing in their lives?
    2. You’re not content with something in your life. This is such an important thing because it means you’re self-aware and you don’t want to settle  -and that’s the first and most crucial step towards change. So many people stay where they are – emotionally or physically – because it takes courage to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery.
    3. You fell for the wrong person and got your heart broken into a million pieces. Someone can be madly in love with you and still not be ready. They can love you in a way you have never been loved and still not give you what you need. That’s okay. There is a more extraordinary love out there that you would never know if it didn’t end it with the last one.
    4. You’ve lost something important to you and you’re still hurting. That means you are alive, you have a heart, you are healing, and your soul is learning the natural cycle of breaking and healing. The only real tragedy is the loss of emotions all together.
    5. You feel lost. That means you’re ahead of the game – anyone who thinks they’ve got it all figured out is settling for something for okay or sort of good enough. You’re lost because you know that there is much more inside of you than what you’re currently offering the world. Being lost keeps you hungry and it keeps you moving forward. You are exactly where you need to be right now.
    6. Your ego has been really hurt. In the words of Jillian Michaels, “A bad day for your ego is a great day for your soul.”
    7. You have one or two friends that feel like your family. If you have one person in your life that just gets you, that you can call crying at 4 a.m. and you know that somehow, they will just make you feel better – you’re set.
    8. You’ve made mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable in a life worth living. As long as you learn from them, mistakes are very important. They teach you exactly what you want and who you want to be.
    9. Some days you feel miserable. Maybe it’s because of a breakup, a divorce, losing a job, or life’s just getting you down – whatever it is, the harder you slam a ball into the ground, the higher it bounces back up. Some days life is gonna rough you up a bit, but it will leave you stronger, more appreciative, more compassionate, and wiser. Beautiful people do not just happen – life is all about experience.
    10. You got rejected or didn’t get something you really wanted. Remember, when one door closes another door always opens. If you open your eyes, you will see the next door that opens is a better door.
    11. You didn’t get your perfect ending. Some of the best stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about making the best of each moment because we really don’t know what will happen next. Maybe you didn’t get your perfect ending, but you will get something so much better.
    12. You’re not the same person you were a year ago. So many people never change. They get stuck in their stubborn ways and never progress. Life is all about evolving.

This articles was originally written by Anna Bashedly on August 9, 2015.

Does Grief Have An Expiration Date?

Grief is a big bowl to hold. It takes so many formations, so many textures and colors. You never know how or when it will rear its head and take a hold of you. Sometimes you cry unfathomably, some days you feel guilty because you haven’t cried, and in other moments you are so angry or filled with anxiety you just don’t know what to do.

Grief is one of those emotions that has a life of its own. It carried every feeling within it and sometimes there’s no way to discern it.

Today was a hard day.

Usually I am able to hide my feelings well. Usually I can paste a smile on my face, exude positivity, and not allow anyone to know that I am being eaten away inside.

Today was not usual.

Today I had more meltdowns than I can ever remembering facing on any given day in the past. Today I found myself becoming angry and hostile about the littlest of things. Today I awoke from a daydream to find tears leaking down my cheeks. Today I curled myself into the fetal position and sobbed.

Today I grieved. Or at least my grief finally came out…

It has been a month since my friend Denise’s death and I still don’t think I’ve truly taken the time to grieve her loss. Sure, I’ve cried in the late hours of the night, but I hide that sadness during the day so the world won’t see my weakness. I have not wanted the world to know that I am hurting. And I feel more guilt as time keeps ticking away that I’m not better yet… that I am not as strong as I pretend to be.

I feel like I should be nearing the end of my grieving period… and that is the issue!

Certain things need an expiration date. Milk, eggs, meat, yogurt, the salad that gets pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten… An expiration date means there is a time we need to be done with these things, a time for them to either be a gone or thrown away. I get this. I’m in perfect understanding of this. But why do I also feel like grief has an expiration date as well? There seems to be this under-laying concept in our society that allows grief to have a shelf life and then it needs to be permanently removed from the house and home.

I think this way of thinking comes from those who have never experienced a great loss. Good for you! You are so blessed! But unfortunately, there are a number of people in the world who cannot say the same. The majority have suffered devastating losses and therefore know the truth — grief does not have an expiration date.

Everyone fears facing such a loss. Alongside that fear, they are also hopeful that their grief will only last a certain amount of time, that it will only take “so long” to recover. So until they are faced with the reality of a loss, it is a lot easier to think, “This won’t happen to me, and if it does it will only be awful for a short amount of time and then SNAP! Back to my happy-go-lucky self and all the sadness will be magically erased.”

Friends, this way of thinking sets us all up for very disappointing expectations!

The reality is, everyone deals with grief in their own way. If someone spent years loving another person, that pain will not simply be removed due to society’s belief that it should be over at a given time.

The same can be said for people who made a lasting impact in another’s life, just like Denise did for me. Her loss is something I still not comprehend, and I’m finding it difficult to “get over it” in a timely manner simply because I doubt how well I am coping — or if I am coping at all.

Over the past month, I’ve learned a few more things about grief. Grief will take on different forms in different people. Not everyone cries while others cry all the time. Some people exercise a lot, others talk about the situation often. Many seek counseling or look for support groups.

I’ve come to enjoy the company of good and understanding listeners. This is a big step for me — when I start to feel sad, I actively look for someone to listen to my feelings and give me support.

I called Wilbur today for that support. I felt awful doing so, and I actually retracted my invitation for help only a few minutes later, but he came over and lent me a helping hand to get through the evening. He reminded me that I am allowed to feel the pain of Denise’s loss and that it is healthy to do so.

From past experience, I know that the frequency and intensity of grief’s pain will lessen over time. However, the reality is that those memories will resurface and the pain will itch its way back into Life every now and then. Everyone grieves at their own pace and in their own way. There is no set right or wrong way to grieve, and that is something we as a society need to start incorporating into everyday life.

Grieving in a healthy manner and taking steps forward does not mean you won’t have tough days or moments. Grief is a way of life, but you can continue to lead a happy life by choosing to do so and putting in the necessary work.

There is no expiration date on grief. When you’ve faced a tragic loss, grief never fully goes away. This doesn’t mean you will be sad forever though, and that you can’t choose to be happy in the future. Take however much time you need to grieve your losses, because, luckily, there is no expiration date on the love you shared with your lost loved ones either.

A Letter to the Girl with a Broken Heart

Two years ago, I lost what, I thought, was the basic existence of my life. To read my thoughts and feelings over the time that has passed, I am both humbled and shocked. Humbled that I was granted the blessing of maturing through this time and given wisdom over the past two years. Shocked because I can still remember the emotions felt during what was one of the hardest decisions so far. There is so much I wish I could have known back then…

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